October 20, 2020

For more information please contact:
Zenagui Brahim
President, NH MEP

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Public Safety Communications Research Division (PSCR) is offering six prize challenges through its Open Innovation program to innovators, manufacturers, students and companies across industry. PSCR Open Innovation focuses on outcomes and results, not on specific requirements. The problem solvers (aka Challenge participants) determine the “how” and the “solution” by using their creativity to reach the desired goal. Participants may advance their research concept, commercial their products, or enhance their business products all while improving safety and efficiency for America’s First Responders. Here is a list of current challenges:

  • Tech to Protect Challenge – launched June 2019, ends November 2020 (mobile apps)
  • CHARIoT Challenge  – launched March 2020, ends December 2020 (AR and IoT)
  • First Responder UAS Challenge – launched April 2020, ends April 2021 (drone flight endurance)
  • ASAPS (Automated Streams Analysis for Public Safety) Challenge – launched April 2020, ends 2022 (algorithms)
  • Enhancing Computer vision for Public Safety Challenge – launched Sept 2020, ends May 2021 (image quality)
  • Differential Privacy Temporal Map Data Challenge – launched Oct 2020, ends June 2021 (de-identification)

Tech to Protect Challenge 

Hosted in 10 cities across the U.S., the Tech to Protect Challenge is a national innovation contest that will bring together a diverse and talented community of collaborators to develop technology solutions to help first responders improve the safety of communities. Join fellow researchers, entrepreneurs, technologists, students, programmers, designers, and public safety experts to create solutions across critical technical areas of public safety communications. Design new applications and tools to support secure communications, location-based services, public safety data analytics, mission-critical voice, UI/UX and more. Winning solutions will receive cash prizes and national recognition. Learn more.

Listen to a recording of a Tech to Protect panel from the 2019 Stakeholder Meeting in Chicago: Tech to Protect: Designing Apps that Further the Mission of Emergency Responders.

2020 CHARIoT Challenge: Advancing First Responder Communications

The CHARIoT Challenge, hosted by PSCR and its challenge partners, invites innovators to build augmented reality (AR) interfaces or Internet of Things (IoT) data emulators by participating in a multi-phase contest. The Challenge is running two multi-phase contests, simultaneously: Build Augmented Reality Interfaces for First Responder and Emulate Smart City Data for Disaster Scenarios. Learn more.

2020 First Responder UAS Endurance Challenge

This four-stage Challenge promotes unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) technology that may someday assist first responders in their search and rescue operations. Competitors will have an opportunity to demo their UAS prototype at a live culmination event in front of industry experts and public safety agencies in April 2021, and to compete for up to $552K in prizes. Learn more.

2020 Automated Streams Analysis for Public Safety (ASAPS) Prize Challenge 

The Automated Streams Analysis for Public Safety (ASAPS) Prize Challenge is an open innovation program focused on the development of algorithms to detect and analyze a variety of emergency events from unstructured public safety data served from a live streaming data processing framework. The framework will leverage an extensive and unique staged dataset designed to stimulate a day in the life of a busy city as viewed through the lens of many parallel, multimodal, unstructured data streams. Learn more.

2020 Enhancing Computer Vision for Public Safety Challenge

Launching this summer, PSCR seeks solvers to create image datasets that depict camera capture problems such as grime on the lens or sun flare, that cause issues for computer vision applications. These training datasets will be offered for future image quality research and development to better diagnose and predict camera problems and improve public safety analytics.

2020 Differential Privacy Temporal Map Data Challenge

Open for submissions October 1, 2020 – May 17, 2021. 

he 2020 NIST PSCR Differential Privacy Temporal Map Data Challenge follows on the success of 2018 Differential Privacy Synthetic Data Challenge, extending the reach and utility of differential privacy algorithms.

Participants will compete in a sequence of marathon matches to apply differentially private algorithms to datasets that contain time and location data, where one individual in the data may contribute a short sequence of events. The goal is to create a privacy-preserving dashboard map that shows changes across different map segments over time.

Temporal map data is of particular interest to the public safety community in applications such as optimizing response time and personnel placement, natural disaster response, epidemic tracking, demographic data and civic planning. Yet, the ability to track a person’s location over a period of time presents particularly serious privacy concerns. See this news article for an overview of this topic.

The Differential Privacy Temporal Map Challenge will invite solvers to develop algorithms that preserve data utility while guaranteeing individual privacy is protected.

For more information on Differential Privacy, the challenge and its target public safety applications, check out the on-demand session “Crisis Collaborations: Challenges for Safe Data Sharing with Differential Privacy” from PSCR 2020: The Digital Experience.


Mobile Fingerprint Capture for First Responders Challenge

PSCR is exploring ways to utilize already-deployed mobile technologies to provide a portable, on-the-scene fingerprint capture solution that would save public safety personnel resources and potentially save lives. The path to capable mobile fingerprinting could be made more accessible by addressing gaps in technology that have hindered development. To accomplish this, PSCR is launching the Mobile Fingerprint Capture for First Responders Challenge in Winter/Spring 2021. Winning solutions will focus on innovations across a variety of mobile device operating systems that advance the state of fingerprint capture technologies.

PSCR is currently planning a workshop with subject matter experts in the fields of fingerprint capture, quality and app development. If you’re a first responder or subject matter expert and would like to be involved in this effort, contact PSCR at for more information.

PSCR Open Innovation Mission

PSCR Open Innovation’s mission is to create a framework in which they can work with individuals, companies, organizations, and academic institutes in rapid, more collaborative ways than traditional engagements. The Open Innovation program leverages financial awards and incentive-based activities to solve discrete and well defined problems surrounding: Crowdsourcing, Prize & Challenge Competitions, Hack-a-thons, Data Jams, Ideation, Collaborative Iteration & Design, and Team-building Activities. 

For more information about any of these challenges, click here to visit the official NIST website.

About NH MEP

New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership
172 Pembroke Road
Concord, NH  03301

Phone: 603-226-3200

The New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, national or ethnic origin, gender, disability, age, political affiliation or belief. This nondiscrimination policy encompasses the operation of all educational and training programs and activities. It also encompasses the employment of personnel and contracting for goods and services.

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